FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. –
For Pfc. Alejandra Claudio, the memories of her native Mexico are hazy at best. At the age of four she emigrated to the United States with her parents, as her father sought to find a better life for Claudio and her siblings.
Eighteen years later the dreams her father had for her are becoming reality – Claudio is on her way to obtaining a teaching degree, while also serving in the Army Reserve as a supply clerk for the 653rd Regional Support Group in Mesa, Arizona.
Military service is something nobody in her family – which includes eight siblings – has ever attempted before, making Claudio’s achievement a proud moment for herself and her family.
Claudio was born in Sinaloa, Mexico, and moved to California with her parents and two of her siblings in 2004.
“When I was 14, we moved to Phoenix. My parents moved here for a better life – my dad had a work visa and had the opportunity to bring us over,” Claudio said. “I still have siblings in Mexico, there’s nine of us in total and I’m the youngest at 22. The oldest is 45.”
As a child Claudio said she didn’t see much of her siblings due to their age difference, exacerbated by her parents’ eventual divorce.
Regardless Claudio enjoyed her upbringing, with the military not a thought until one of her brothers expressed interest in joining.
“Growing up there was nobody in my family who had ever served. My brother wanted to, but once he had a family to support, he gave up on that dream,” she said.
For Claudio her own military dream began in earnest when a visit from a local recruiter to her high school caught her attention.
“When I was 16 an Army recruiter came to my high school and that sparked my interest. Later two of my friends enlisted and said they really liked serving,” Claudio said. “When I was 19, I walked into the recruiting station in Mesa and told them I was interested in the Army Reserve. They were helpful and gave me lots of job options to choose from. I ended up choosing supply clerk.”
Claudio said the extensive benefits were an important factor in her decision to enlist, several helping her immensely.
“Education benefits and a path to citizenship were two of my main reasons for joining. I only have a Green Card, so serving helped me obtain my citizenship,” Claudio continued. “When I decided to enlist, I’d been at community college for a year. Joining the Army would help with tuition costs, so I knew I’d resume classes following my initial training.”
Claudio said her family had some reservations about her enlistment, especially the amount of physical training she would endure.
“My family never imagined me joining the Army … I’ve never been into sports or physical activity, so they were surprised.,” she said. “They told me there’s going to be a lot of running and exercise, but I still wanted to do it. I wanted to challenge myself.”
Claudio departed for Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, S.C., in Sept. 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic heavily affecting her experience.
“Luckily everyone in my company tested negative, but we wore masks through the whole cycle which was difficult,” Claudio admitted.
Following graduation from BCT Claudio attended her Advanced Individual Training at Fort Lee, Virginia, graduating in March of 2021.
“The classroom portion was difficult, but I got through it and passed. I was so proud of myself and so was my family,” she said. “My mother was indecisive about me joining the Army, but now she’s my biggest supporter and loves seeing me in uniform.”
Claudio’s long-term ambitions involve becoming a certified teacher, while furthering her Army career.
“Right now, I’m in school and training to become a special education teacher. I have about two years left of that before I graduate and I’m excited to begin that portion of my career while continuing to serve,” she said.